Having an NFL quarterback on your team is never a bad thing. In a recent discussion with Tyler Palko, our VP of Business Development, we discussed how important talent development is to collegiate football teams. Interestingly, he explained that finding the absolute top-tier talent is not the recipe for success. Instead, he explained that the best teams invest in talent they see true potential in and then develop the talent in-depth around a group of solid players. It is not just about the talent they see today; it is about the talent they know they need down the road.

Tyler said it might take teams that have fallen behind up to three years to restore a strong foundation of talent. “You can’t let up,” he explained; “You must constantly be building your bench.” That is part of the secret to building a championship team. The best leaders realize they must constantly build talent depth on their team to compete at the elite level.

A friend of mine recently posted a video of a graduation ceremony for the Ranger Assessment and Selection Program (RASP). Over 100 volunteers completed the multi-week selection program, built to weed out the weak of heart and fill their ranks with only the best. The elite 75th Ranger Regiment conducts this program multiple times a year to ensure they sustain elite talent forged from an already selective, all-volunteer force in the US Army.

If a Soldier leaves the Ranger Regiment for another assignment, they must complete RASP upon their return to ensure they maintained their edge.  The leaders of the 75th Ranger Regiment know they must sustain an elite team, so they constantly are finding and developing their talent. Additionally, their talent knows they play an essential role in keeping themselves ready. Development never stops if you want to remain on their elite team.

In our work with companies across the United States, we find that the best companies invest in their talent. They see that the competition is fierce, and the teams that actively develop depth in their teams maintain their competitive edge. In the dynamically changing post-COVID world, companies are actively building their teams because that is required to retain the best. Great employees want to be invested in, not just via financial compensation, but through growing and becoming better.

Great talent with great leaders produces great results. Our research for The Leadership Decade validated that having great leaders in-depth increases the market valuation of a company by 25-30%. Companies that invest in their people—focusing on building talent depth on their bench—increase the value of their organization more than almost any other single investment.

Top talent wants to be around top talent. They want to be surrounded by others who also want to grow. This culture retains the best talent and, when the word gets out, attracts more top talent who want to be part of an elite team that will make them better. The Alabama football program is known for attracting and growing top talent year over year. The 75th Ranger Regiment is known for producing elite talent who deliver elite results globally, year over year. They get this by focusing on developing their talent.

In the fiercely competitive post-COVID job market, finding and retaining talent is a constant challenge. The pattern that great organizations have figured out is that developing talent never ends. So what are you doing to grow your team, forge your talent, and build your bench?